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One Hand to Another — Los Angeles to Guatemala

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Children in Guatemala thank Pali students.

Children in Guatemala thank Pali students.

Jorge Gracias

Jorge Gracias

Children in Guatemala thank Pali students.

Alicia Abramson, Opinion Co-Editor

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“I know how it feels not to have a pair of shoes or not to be able to play with the other children. But this project was the idea of the kids.”

Over winter break, Mr. Jorge Gracias traveled to his hometown of Shanshul, Guatemala to personally deliver several boxes of donated clothes and goods collected by the students of Palisades Charter High School. While Gracias has been collecting donations for 13 years, this year’s efforts were particularly fruitful due to the leadership of Pali’s One Hand to Another Club, led by juniors Jamin Bay, Lilly von Ruden, Jonathan Berrios, Lily Kaplan and Alexander Siliezar.

Club members celebrate their successful donation drive.

The group of five, plus other club members, collected donations for several weeks from Pali students before shipping packages to Guatemala to support Gracias’ village.

“Living in Los Angeles, we often take for granted all of our material possessions,” Jamin Bay, the club’s president, said. “But to the residents of this village, another soccer ball or a pair of shoes makes all the difference in their lives.”

Gracias pays a visit to his hometown every year, always bringing with him soccer equipment and clothing to help the kids in his village. He arranges soccer tournaments there because “the only way to have fun in our village is by playing soccer.” Soccer is a way for their small town to bond — but soccer balls and shoes are not readily available. Gracias is therefore especially grateful to AYSO Region 69, which has been donating soccer equipment for nearly 15 years, with supplies ranging from cleats to jerseys.

Guatemalan children pose for a photo in their new Pali jerseys.

“It’s really a unique experience,” Bay said. “I didn’t get to meet the people I was doing all of this for, but it didn’t lessen the significance of it.”

Upon Gracias’ return, the students were presented with certificates to commemorate their dedication. The club plans to continue collecting donations in the future to support other areas.

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The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School
One Hand to Another — Los Angeles to Guatemala